Call it what you will, ritual, tradition, or even bad habit. All families have them. There are the big rituals; Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, ham for Easter, turkey with all the trimmings at Thanksgiving. And there are the small rituals; lullabies and stories at bedtime, a hug and a kiss before the lights go out, not after!
I have something that started so gradually that I wasn’t even aware it was a ritual. When I first started working at home, I purchased a laptop. Not only was it a good price for the amount of computer I was getting, but I knew I couldn’t beat its portability enabling me to parent and work anywhere we happened to be. Often, I would settle down with my four year old, laptop on my knee, to watch a television show or a movie with him. It was easily done, he felt the companionship of mommy close at hand and I got some email handled or even a design completed.
As I said, it started small.
Late in 1999 an angel smiled on me and I had the good fortune to receive a wonderful desktop computer! How terrific it would be to be able to work on websites and view them on a full-size monitor instead of on a 12-inch laptop screen. But, no longer mobile, I could no longer take part in our daily ritual.
It seems that all that time I was watching television with my son while I was working, I was offhandedly reading to him any words that appeared on the screen. Would someone please tell me who the wiseacre is that decided preschool programs need episode names? Okay, maybe that’s unfair, since the shows he loves (Bear in the Big Blue House, The Animal Shelf, Blue’s Clues, Little Bear) have a unifying theme that carries through the episode, it seems only reasonable that each episode have a title. My question more properly phrased should be why would the powers that be in preschool programming not have someone actually saying the name of the episode. After all, how many preschoolers can read?
And so, it goes. Though not portable, my computer is set up only a room away from where the television is set up. If necessary I can be there in the blink of an eye (and I was when my son cut himself with my scissors, but that’s another slice!). He, however, has taken it upon himself to continue our ritual of me telling him the name of every episode of any show he decides to watch. No problem, you say? Merely tell him that I can’t be at his beck and call? Been there, done that.
Witness the day, while on the phone with a potential design client; who does (thankfully) know that I run a home based office and I have a preschooler assistant; I missed the beginning of Little Bear. My son was inconsolable. My call lasted for the entire half-hour that Little Bear was on. The producers of Little Bear have the unmitigated gall to produce three episodes, each with a different name, to fill that half-hour. As each episode ended and the next one began, my son would begin anew crying “Mommy! Come here! What is it called? YOU MISSED IT!!!” as loudly as he could.
Rituals. I’ve developed a new one. Every afternoon between 1:30 and 2:00 I push my chair back and step away from the computer. I take my little one by the hand and we snuggle up like spoons on my bed and indulge ourselves in a full half-hour of Little Bear.
And you know? I haven’t missed a title since!